Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

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Espinosa Retires, Nino Joins Columbia Union Team

Story by V. Michelle Bernard

Ileana Espinosa, who worked as the associate director of elementary education in the Office of Education at the Columbia Union Conference for more than 10 years, retired June 30. 

With experience in Seventh-day Adventist education, including time in the elementary classroom, as an education superintendent and associate superintendent, Espinosa brought more than 40 years of experience to her role.

Donovan Ross, vice president of Education for the Columbia Union , says Espinosa has a passion for Christian education and a burden for small schools—which make up at least 70 percent of the schools in the Columbia Union.

He notes she was instrumental in the union starting a small school’s workshop, which helped train teachers each year. She also had a strong commitment to quality—especially in the school accreditation process.

Ross also notes her great sense of humor, a strong sense of teamwork, and that she often said that while work was important, family was also. 

He adds that she was excited to promote Christian education: “Any chance she'd get, [she’d] go out and do it, and be excited about it.”

On July 1, Alison Jobson, the union’s associate director for early childhood education, transitions to Espinosa’s vacant position. Jobson joined the union’s team in 2019 as the associate director for early childhood education.

Ruth Nino, most recently the principal of New Jersey Conference’s Waldwick Adventist School for the last 13 years, is joining the union staff as assistant director for early childhood education. Nino brings more than 20 years of experience in elementary education.

“[Waldwick] experienced growth in enrollment, a strengthening program,” under her leadership, notes Ross, who says he was impressed with Nino’s excitement to tackle the challenges that lay ahead in early childhood education, which has only been part of the church’s educational system for about 15 years.

Nino is a graduate from Pennsylvania Conference’s Blue Mountain Academy in Hamburg, Pa., Andrews University (Mich.) and Columbia University (N.Y.). She also serves as one of the coaches in the Advancement of Christian Education (ACE) Academy Leadership Coaching Program. She expects to finish her Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership in May 2026.



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